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What to Maximize If You Must

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  • Heifetz, Aviad
  • Shannon, Chris
  • Spiegel, Yossi
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    Abstract

    The assumption that decision makers choose actions to maximize their preferences is a central tenet in economics. This assumption is often justified either formally or informally by appealing to evolutionary arguments. In contrast, this paper shows that in almost every game, payoff. maximization cannot be justified by appealing to such arguments. We show that in almost every game, for almost every distortion of a player’s actual payoffs, some extent of this distortion is beneficial to the player because of the resulting effect on opponents’ play. Consequently, such distortions will not be driven out by any evolutionary process involving payoff.- monotonic selection dynamics, in which agents with higher actual payoffs proliferate at the expense of less successful agents. In particular, under any such selection dynamics, the population will not converge to payoff-maximizing behavior. We also show that payoff-maximizing behavior need not prevail even when preferences are imperfectly observed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt0hj6631n.

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    Date of creation: 12 Dec 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt0hj6631n

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    Keywords: payoff maximization; disposition; rationality; game theory;

    References

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    1. Fershtman, C. & Weiss, Y., 1996. "Social Rewards Externalities and Stable Preferences," Papers 17-96, Tel Aviv.
    2. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," Microeconomics.ca working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
    3. Kockesen, Levent & Ok, Efe A. & Sethi, Rajiv, 2000. "Evolution of Interdependent Preferences in Aggregative Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 303-310, May.
    4. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
    5. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2001. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 273-297, April.
    6. Bar-Gill, O. & Fershtman, C., 2001. "The Limit of Public Policy: Endogenous Preferences," Papers 2001-5, Tel Aviv.
    7. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1996. "The Theory of Learning in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 624, David K. Levine.
    8. S. Huck & J. Oechssler, 1996. "The Indirect Evolutionary Approach To Explaining Fair Allocations," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1996,13, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    9. Leininger, W. & Linhart, P. B. & Radner, R., 1989. "Equilibria of the sealed-bid mechanism for bargaining with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 63-106, June.
    10. Benos, Alexandros V., 1998. "Aggressiveness and survival of overconfident traders," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 353-383, September.
    11. Jeffrey C. Ely & Okan Yilankaya, 1997. "Nash Equilibrium and the Evolution of Preferences," Discussion Papers 1191, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    12. Nittai Bergman & Yaacov Z Bergman, 2000. "Ecologies of Preferences with Envy As An Antidote to Risk Aversion in Bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7561, David K. Levine.
    13. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1994. "Human Relations in the Workplace," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 684-717, August.
    14. Ok, Efe A. & Vega-Redondo, Fernando, 2001. "On the Evolution of Individualistic Preferences: An Incomplete Information Scenario," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 231-254, April.
    15. Possajennikov, Alex, 2000. "On the evolutionary stability of altruistic and spiteful preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 125-129, May.
    16. Joerg Oechssler & Frank Riedel, 1998. "Evolutionary Dynamics on Infinite Strategy Spaces," Game Theory and Information 9805002, EconWPA, revised 12 May 1998.
    17. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    18. Alvaro Sandroni, 2000. "Do Markets Favor Agents Able to Make Accurate Predicitions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1303-1342, November.
    19. Kockesen, Levent & Ok, Efe A. & Sethi, Rajiv, 2000. "The Strategic Advantage of Negatively Interdependent Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 274-299, June.
    20. Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Introduction to the Evolution of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 225-230, April.
    21. Guttman, Joel M., 2000. "On the evolutionary stability of preferences for reciprocity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 31-50, March.
    22. Bolle, Friedel, 2000. "Is altruism evolutionarily stable? And envy and malevolence?: Remarks on Bester and Guth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 131-133, May.
    23. Samuelson, Larry & Zhang, Jianbo, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in asymmetric games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 363-391, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Huck, Steffen & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Oechssler, Jörg, 1997. "Learning to like what you have: Explaining the endowment effect," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1997,38, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    2. Hofbauer, Josef & Oechssler, Jörg & Riedel, Frank, 2009. "Brown-von Neumann-Nash dynamics: The continuous strategy case," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 406-429, March.

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